Beer for Horses: Four Healthy Reasons
Guinness stout beer is often recommended as an aid to help horses with anhidrosis, but beer for horses goes beyond that. On the backside of many race tracks across the country and in the barns of many well known show jumpers, Guinness stout beer is a regular part of supplementing a horse’s diet.
This winter in Wellington, I was amazed at how much beer sat in feed rooms waiting to be fed. For show jumpers, Guinness is being fed after competitions to revitalize the horses. On the track Guinness helps to stimulate appetite in picky eaters. One Irish thoroughbred trainer, Derek Ryan, at the Saratoga track said, “although it’s more expensive to use Guinness, if you feed cheap beer it gives the horses a hangover.”
Components of Guinness:
Guinness is made from yeast (Saccharomyces cervisiae —strains of which are often found as probiotics in feed and supplements). Yeast provides much of the B-vitamin complex, an important nutritional component in helping horses recover from stress, and provides important probiotic support.
Guinness beer contains the herb hops. Hops became an important component in beer making back in the 1200s when English monks (who had a monopoly on beer making) discovered the antimicrobial actions of the hops flower that grows in marshy hollows all over Europe.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hops are used as a digestive aid, and a treatment for dysentery. The ancient Greek and Roman physicians also recommended hops for intestinal ailments.
Recently, French researchers have identified that hops appears to relax the smooth lining of the digestive tract in humans.
The phytochemicals in hops include Quercitin, a powerful anti inflammatory antioxidant, and RIAA (rho-iso-alpha acid) that has been shown to modulate insulin signaling and decrease the deleterious effects of lipotoxicity in vitro and in a human clinical trial on patients with metabolic syndrome (published 2010, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism).
Guinness beer also contains malted barley, produced from whole barley grain. Malted barley is a good source of B-vitamins, and the minerals iron, copper, manganese and selenium. Iron and copper help make more red blood cells, which can increase the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. Manganese and selenium are powerful antioxidants, helping to protect cells and tissues from superoxide free radicals.
Last but not least among reasons to consider beer for horses, is the component of water in Guinness beer. The water comes from springs in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. It’s important to note that Guinness beer is brewed in Ireland and then imported to the US. It is not made by a licensed brewery in the US as some other imported beers are.
Recommended feeding of beer for horses:
High Performance horses: 12 oz (1 bottle) once a day.
Horses in moderate work/training: ½ cup once a day.
Guinness can be fed as needed after a hard training session, after a competition, or during a period of high heat and or high humidity.
I feed ½ cup per day to the retired horses, when the temperatures get to the 90 degree mark, and I swear I see a smile on their lips after they finish their feed.